Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Great News from Delamere

Delamere’s first ‘dragon’ of the year has been spotted in the forest… well the white-faced darter 
White-faced darter. Photo: Kevin Reynolds

As one of the UK’s rarest dragonflies, this beautiful species has been extinct in our county for over a decade. However, an ambitious project over the last several years has meant that the adult dragonfly has been spotted again this year. The work has involved countless Cheshire Wildlife Trust volunteer and reserve staff hours, reinstating and improving habitat in Delamere Forest, in partnership with the Forestry Commission, as well as a series of white-faced darter translocations.
Doolittle Pool, Delamere. Photo: Richard Gabb

Chris Meredith, Delamere Conservation Officer at Cheshire Wildlife Trust explained the importance of this. “Sightings this month are really significant as it is the first year where we have not introduced new larvae to the pool. This means the adults you can see flying around the pools, are either from larvae that were at an earlier stage and have therefore survived for a longer period, or are in fact the result of adults breeding successfully at our site. A huge thank you to all of our supporters, volunteers and funders who have contributed to the success of the project.”
Dragonflies have been on the earth for over 300 million years and during that time have remained largely unchanged. Although the dragonflies you see are usually flying through the air, they will have all started life in the water. After an egg has been laid, the larva hatches and spends between 3 months and 5 years feeding and growing underwater. Once the larva has reached its full size, it will climb out of the water where it breaks out of its outer skin, revealing its adult body with wings. The adult dragonfly is several times bigger than the larva and has to spend a few hours letting its body and wings stretch out after developing in such a small space. Once dry the dragonfly can take its first flight.
Adult emerging. Photo: Chris Meredithsmall

The white-faced darter reintroduction project is a partnership between Cheshire Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission, Natural England, the British Dragonfly Society and Cheshire West and Chester Council, with funding support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Linley Shaw Foundation.

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